Complete Timeline of Events at CPE1

  • Superintendent Estrella selects Ms. Garg as principal; Ms. Garg served previously (2013-2015) as an assistant principal at PanAmerican International High School under Minerva Zanca, a principal who the Department of Justice has accused of racism, race-based harassment of teachers and retaliation via “investigation” tactics during 2013. Although promoted to IA principal of CPE1 by her New Leaders Academy mentors, our district superintendents,  and without the input of the CPE School Leadership Team,  Ms. Garg had no experience in progressive education methodologies, nor prior experience with early childhood education. [Summer 2015]

  • Ms. Garg hires four new teachers (of a very small staff) who also lack experience in progressive education methodologies, ignoring recommendations of teachers and parents. New staff has not been given the support they need to grow as progressive educators and become comfortable with the school's core practices.  [Summer 2015]

  • Families host a "Meet and Greet" to welcome Ms. Garg into the school community. [July 2015]

  • Superintendent Estrella closes the C30 principal applicant period without informing the school that the C30 had been opened, leaving CPE1 no chance to inform strong candidates with experience in progressive elementary education of an opening for a principal [September 15, 2015]

  • Ms. Garg amends goals of the Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP) without informing the School Leadership Team (SLT). [September 15, 2015]

  • Families sign a letter to Superintendent Estrella expressing concern that the school had no input in the C30 principal selection process and requesting a town hall forum.  Superintendent Estrella denies the request. [November 1, 2015]

  • Superintendent Estrella makes a visit to the school and states that parents need to demonstrate greater support for District 4 if they want her to support the school.  [November 19, 2015]

  • Parents and teachers expressed concerns that Ms. Garg and Ms. Estrella do not value the school’s culture and requested that Superintendent Estrella meet with parents in a town hall to discuss, which Ms. Estrella refused to do. [November 19, 2015]

  • Ms. Garg sends newsletter rejecting parents’ requests to consider a diversity initiative program (promoted by Chancellor Farina) which takes into account applicants’ socioeconomic status, saying D4 enrollment is the stated priority. [December 1, 2015]

  • Ms. Garg sends email to school listserv announcing addition of a new preK class.  No staff was consulted or informed prior to the announcement.  There is currently no available space for an additional class. [January 28, 2016]

  • In a newsletter to parents, Ms. Garg promoted the idea that progressive education is harmful to children of color. On other occasions she has suggested the school needs to adopt more traditional practices in order to serve children of color. [February 2, 2016]

  • Community meeting called by parents and teachers abruptly cancelled by Ms. Garg, who claims there were anonymous calls placed to the city’s 311 complaining about the meeting’s timing. Parents who arrive to attend the meeting are kicked out of the building. [February 2, 2016]

  • A group of tenured teachers sent an open letter to the community expressing concerns about Ms. Garg’s leadership, decision-making, and direction of the school. [February 1, 2016]

  • Ms. Garg attended meeting with parents in which she mostly took notes and repeatedly failed to answer parents' questions. [February 9, 2016]

  • A longtime teacher who signed the open letter is "reassigned" (removed from the school) and investigated for an alleged incident. Garg does not provide appropriate support for or any explanation to the students in the class. [March 14, 2016]

  • Multiple investigations launched on every CPE1 teacher who worked at the school before Garg’s arrival. [March, 2016]

  • Interviews of children as young as seven conducted by Ms. Garg, Deputy Superintendent McBride, and/or investigators from the Office of Special Investigations without the presence of the school counselor; or parental knowledge, consent or informing the parents afterwards; the questions Ms. Garg states were asked to children differ from those some children say were asked. Despite requests to Ms. Garg for information, some parents still do not know who was in the room interviewing their child. Some parents who request transcripts of the interviews are promised them and never receive them. [early March, 2016]

  • 55+ CPE 1 parents send letters to Superintendent Estrella et al, expressing concerns that investigations of staff may be retaliatory and interviews of children harmful. Letters requested oversight to ensure that school administration use best practice when interviewing small children (i.e. contacting parents).  No parents received a direct reply from anyone in the DOE. [March 22, 2016]

  • After a friend of CPE1 spoke to the mayor, Superintendent Estrella communicates with parent body, cc’ing senior officials, stating she was working on “progressive steps” to address parents’ concerns and would share more the following week--which she does not. [March 30, 2016]

  • A Black CPE1 parent filed a complaint with the DOE Office of Equal Opportunity on 4/5/16, two months after the 2/2 incident. The parent had two interviews with OEO, on 4/12/16 and 5/10/16. On 5/10, the parent was told her complaint would be referred to a supervisor by Dana Stein of OCR. As of yet, she has received no formal response to her complaint. On 7/8/16, the parent filed a complaint with the US Dept of Education Office of Civil Rights against the NYCDOE as representative of CPE1 and Monika Garg after letting the DOE know on 6/3/16 that she would do so if her complaint was not addressed. [April 2016-present]

  • CPE1 families publish the “SAVE CPE1” website and create a petition on change.org on April 8, 2016. The petition calls for the removal of Ms. Garg from her role as principal. Since then, 2650 people have signed the petition. This includes 65% of the families at CPE1, alumni, former teachers, progressive educators, Deborah Meier (the founder of the school) and elected officials like: Senator Bill Perkins, Robert Jackson and Johnny Rivera. [April to present]

  • Parents and teachers meet with elected officials from the City Council, Assembly and Senate, and Borough Presidents’ offices (Manhattan and the Bronx) and inform them of what is happening at their school in hopes to gain support and advocacy for CPE1. Outreach to elected officials is ongoing via attendance at events, office visits, phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication.   [April to present]

  • Despite writing in her 4/11/2016 newsletter that she had specific concerns about particular individual students not being served by the curriculum, Ms. Garg confirms at the 4/14/16 SLT meeting that she had not mentioned these concerns to the students' teachers during her seven months leading the school. Ms Garg confirms that she only initiated a conversation three days prior to the meeting, following the launch of the website and petition. [April 14, 2016]

  • At a 4/20/16 meeting with parents, Ms. Garg again denies that she supports changing the school’s curriculum, despite her assertions in a newsletter a week earlier. She admits she is unable to explain CPE1’s practices. Garg cannot provide parents any evidence that CPE1 families resort to outside tutoring because the school’s education is insufficient, despite Superintendent Estrella stating this to parents. Ms. Garg abruptly walks out of the meeting when a parent breaks into tears, sharing how CPE1 has helped his children. [April 20, 2016]

  • CPE1 parents, teachers, and alumni attend meetings of the PEP to express their concerns about Garg’s leadership at CPE1 and Estrella’s leadership of D4. Parents and teachers request support from the Panel and the Chancellor. [April 20, May 18, June 22, 2016]

  • Garg continuously subverts DOE-mandated body for parent representation and participation in school activities, instead allowing personal favorites among parents to organize events representing the school and to deliberately keep them secret from other parents. Example: Monika Garg’s chosen parental representative (Parent A) called another parent (Parent B) to ask her to participate in an orientation event for incoming families. Parent A then asked Parent B to keep it secret from other parents. Parent B was uncomfortable with this and alerted the Parent Association‘s elected president. [May 4, 2016]

  • CPE1 families attend District 4 CEC meetings (5/11, 6/8, 7/20)  to inform the CEC about the situation at CPE1 and ask for support for CPE1 families. At the May meeting, Garg is present but does not speak to address the parents’ concerns. At the June meeting, Estrella is present and rejects the chairperson’s request that she speak to families’ concerns. On 6/8, a resolution is presented to the CEC, asking for its’ support to protect CPE1’s pedagogy and democracy in D4. The following week Estrella meets privately with the CEC leadership and tells them the following lies: there are more parents who support Garg than there are who are concerned about her leadership, SAVE CPE1 organizers tricked parents into signing the petition by telling them the school was going to be closed, students at CPE1 “just play all day.” Estrella rejected the CEC’s suggestion that she and they meet with all CPE1 families together. The CEC leadership meeting with Estrella is interrupted by a FACE official, who informs the CEC they cannot address school-specific issues. At the July meeting, the CEC states that they are not able to pass the resolution as stated because they are not allowed to take positions on personnel matters and the resolution is interpreted (although clearly does NOT ask for) as asking them to take a stand on personnel matters. Some CEC members protest this decision, stating that they were not included in the process. CPE1 parents and community members present concerns about rampant administrative abuse in District 4 and the lack of recourse for parents, teachers, and community members. Testimony from educators who allege abuses by Superintendent Estrella are shared. At the request of a CEC member, the Chair of the Youth and Education Committee of Community Board 11 offers a space for a meeting for the CPE1 community and D4 administrators.  [May, June, July 2016]

  • On 5/17/16, 300 CPE1 families and supporters attend a rally at Tweed demanding that Garg be removed from her role as principal of CPE1. [May 17, 2016]

  • Many CPE1 parents file formal complaints with FACE citing a variety of Garg’s violations. Complaints vary from racial stereotyping to failure to provide IEP services. Most parents report never receiving a response from FACE. [May-June 2016]

  • At a PA meeting, when asked to clarify why she was deliberately dividing the school community by selecting only a few parents to work with and undermining PA elected parents and volunteer committees Ms. Garg says: “I don’t have to work with the PA. If this is something that I am doing as the principal for the school it is my choice. I can seek the help of parents who I choose.” (June 7, 2016)

  • Ms. Garg announces that not only will there be a new prek, the library and office of the parent coordinator will be moved and a new classroom will be remodeled at the school. One of the new special ed teachers  that she hired in the Fall 2015 (a teacher she knew previously) will be the head teacher for the new preK, despite having no prior preK experience.  Parents question this decision since this teacher has been unsuccessful in incorporating inquiry based methods and the school’s unique pedagogy into the class and there is another internal candidate who is qualified and trained in CPE1’s pedagogy. Staff (including the Hiring Committee) have no input in this hiring decision, as they traditionally have at CPE1. [June 2016]

  • Five teachers and one long-time para-professional announce their departure from the school, all citing the difficulty of continuing to serve the best interests of students while working under Ms. Garg as a reason. [June 2016]

  • On 6/13/16, 60 people (mostly current CPE1 parents) attend SAVE CPE1 Town Hall meeting in order to openly and democratically assess the work and decide on next steps.

  • On 6/24/16, CPE1 students walk out of school and join their families in a march to the District Office, demanding accountability from Superintendent Estrella and Garg’s removal. 75 people participate. [June 24, 2016]

  • Chancellor Farina sends Senior Supervising Superintendent, Laura Feijoo, to CPE1. Over four visits to the school and one visit by SLT members to Tweed, Feijoo suggests plan to bring in two new staff at CPE1 to address Ms. Garg’s deficits. Despite repeated requests for a formal proposal or even a date that one would come, the DOE has yet to produce one. Feijoo comments several times on how she has noted and been impressed by the dedication of CPE1’s veteran teachers who choose to work hours above and beyond their contracts in their desire to best serve CPE1 students. On 7/19, Feijoo emails a dismissive response to SLT’s repeated requests for a proposal asking for further patience. [Meeting dates, (5/16, 6/2, 6/9, 6/23)  Last request for proposal from SLT members: June 30, 2016. Last response from Feijoo July 19, 2016]

  • SAVE CPE1 establishes connections with other parents and educators in District 4 who are facing similar challenges with abusive practice and ineffective leadership of their schools’ principals and the D4 superintendency. Current and former teachers come forward with statements. [June-July 2016]

  • SLT Members follow on through on applying for the DOE’s Diversity in Admissions Initiative after informing Dr. Feijoo (on June  23) that their desire to join the program is being blocked by District 4 Superintendent Estrella and Ms. Garg. The proposal that commits to bringing more low-income children into CPE1 is submitted to Chancellor Farina with the support of the majority of the School Leadership Team but not the support of Ms. Garg. [July 8th]

  • Debbie Meier, CPE1 founder, distributes statement in support of SAVE CPE1’s goals to the progressive education community. [July 12, 2016]

  • On 7/19, Garg invites a Parent A (who children have attended CPE1 for 10 years) associated with SAVE CPE1 to meet with her at school. When Parent A arrives, 4 parents who support Garg are present. Garg informs Parent A that she is meeting with them to plan for welcoming new families to CPE1. No elected PA parents (traditionally responsible for welcoming new families) or parents who have volunteered for the “CPE1 Welcoming Committee” have been informed of the meeting. In front of Parent A, Garg asks other parents if he can stay to participate. They say no and Garg tells Parent A he must leave. She further informs Parent A that she will not work with elected parents unless they show they support her. [July 19, 2016]

  • Debbie Meier, CPE1 founder, meets with Chancellor Fariña to advocate for SAVE CPE1. [July 21, 2016]

  • The Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education finds that Garg’s February 2016 newsletter and mailings to the school community (which cite the academic deficiencies of black families home life compared to that of other races; and posit that, unlike white children, black children need a teacher who does not treat them in a friendly manner) are protected by First Amendment rights of free speech and expression. Because the teachers refused to act on Garg’s implications, the Office of Civil Rights finds that “the offensiveness of a particular expression, standing alone, is not a legally sufficient basis to establish a hostile environment.” [October 2016] 
  • Central Park East 1 does not receive a Resolution A grant for technological capital improvements from the Manhattan Borough President's office for FY2017, despite that every school that applied received funding. Despite that Garg said she applied, the Borough President's office has no record of an application for the grant from Central Park East 1.  Garg reveals that, unable to locate Central Park East 1 in the drop down menu online, Garg chose to apply under another school's name. Despite the severe irregularities Garg experienced in the online application process, Garg did not follow up to confirm that the application was received by the Borough President's office. All schools that applied received approximately $70,000 to $200,000 or more to buy new computers and/or other materials or improvements for the children of the school. This is of particular need in Harlem as the schools lag well behind in technological updates. Because of Garg's lapse, Central Park East 1 Elementary received nothing. [October, 2016]

  • After a new (entered September 2016) child alleges that one of the newer teachers Ms. Garg hired hit her, Garg personally conducts an investigation. After approximately a month, during morning drop off at the gate to the school playground, the parent of the child asks Ms. Garg if she completed the investigation. Rather than arranging a meeting, Ms. Garg chooses to discuss the results of the investigation at the gate as other parents and children enter for the day. Ms. Garg says the complaint was unsubstantiated. The parent complains that Ms. Garg never contacted her with the results of the investigation and says that is unacceptable. Ms. Garg goes silent and says nothing further to the parent. Later that week, while a Parent Association Executive Board Member is assisting this parent in the school office, Ms. Garg calls a school security officer to remove the Executive Board Member and other parents from the school. The Board Member refuses to leave insisting that she is there to advocate for this new parent. Ms. Garg stays in her office during this encounter, but periodically looks out of the door of her office to check the security guard's progress. At the Parent Association meeting that same week, a new parent suggests that the school start a petition to have Monika Garg removed as principal. [Week of November 14-18, 2016]